They say we reap what we sow in this life.
Today, I am going to show you how I did that in the literal sense. If you read my Sprung Spring post last May, you saw Chris and me planting seeds in our basement and then trying to get them to live on outside. We had some successes, and some mild to annoying failures. I am given to understand that this is the nature of gardening, no matter how long you’re at it. AKA a perfect foil for a type-A personality. So it’s good for my attempts at harnessing the land that I think of myself as more of an A-/B+ personality…
Anyway, the herbs that did the best from seed were basil, oregano, sage, and lemon balm. Rosemary and mint floundered, lavender never even showed, nor did thyme.
We used all the basil fresh, and without realizing it, I let it go to seed, so I’ll show you that with the rest of the seed saving. It really did grow well, though. I had it in a wooden tub container – here are the seedlings in it.
Sorry I don’t have a shot of its prolific life, but it was terrific right outside the door, heavenly to pass on a warm summer evening.
The lemon balm went gang busters! It is apparently of the mint family and so can get a bit aggressive.
I cut quite a bit down to dry.
I think when it comes back in the spring, for it’s a perennial (more than one season), I’ll transfer it to a container as well.
Next to the lemon balm was the sage. It floundered for a while, since I thought adding the compost to the top soil would be plenty of feeding, so it didn’t get very big. Once I fed it though, it got good enough to be gathered.
I had to resist the urge to just crush it all in my hands and inhale deeply.
I fell in love with sage on my cross country trip after college with my friend Jennifer, and we spent a lot of time in the Southwest. This stuff just grew in multiple varieties; purple, silver, striped, in every crack of those otherwordly rock faces all through the area, a bright contrast to the warm tones ribboning across the landscape. We would just snap a bouquet off and rub it into a mashed up nosegay straight from the earth. It felt like an awakening to the sheer pleasure of breathing deeply.
So like I said – love.
I left some tops behind when I trimmed to make sure this grew back next year as well – another perennial.
Even this late in November, there are still some fresh sprigs living on, and we’ve had a superstorm and a snow storm since I cut this! I am going to trim some more of what’s useable to take to my father-in-law for Thanksgiving dinner.
As an aside, my sister-in-law, Warrior Woman of 33 hours of labor followed by a c-section, became mother to two little girls this week! Congratulations to Family Gee! We will spend this Thanksgiving with much to be grateful for, as we have our first experiences as aunt and uncle. Woo hoo! Rest assured, I’ll write up the Violet products I plan on getting the girls in a coming post…
Here’s the basket of yield, just from these two herbs.
The lemon balm is covering the sage, that’s how much there is.
I also was able to harvest some oregano. I grew it in a container, it did ok. I think it could’ve been taller.
Again, I left some behind to encourage its return.
I then transplanted this to the bed in front of the driveway so it’ll be already in place for next year.
Something kind of cool happened to the oregano, too. You can see in the above picture that it’s very green. As it got on in the season, many of the leaves turned purple-ish, as if oregano has fall colors of its own!
As I mentioned, the thyme never came to much from seed, either. Halfway through the summer, I got a thyme plant from my South Shore Organics delights and planted it in this bed, too.
It has even filled in a bit since I transplanted it.
I will trim some of this for Thanksgiving as well. Those are French marigolds you see behind it. You’ll see much more of them in the seed saving post.
I dried the oregano separately from the other two.
I cleaned it and then put it on an old cotton t-shirt in the basement. The water heater and the furnace down there make it a great, low humidity spot for drying in the fall. Two weeks later, I cleaned the stems, crumpled it up first with my fingers and then a bit in a mortar and pestle. I got about half a standard dry herb jar’s worth.
I then washed and laid out the other two herbs.
I put the sheet on the table outside so that they could dry a bit and not get pools of moisture between them and the plastic tabletop.
In the end, I piled the lemon balm too high and left it out there for too long and it molded. It did make for some very aromatic additions to the compost, though. sigh…
I did take the sage and bundle it for drying, but I figured out how to conveniently hang it straight down (wire hanger off a pipe, with herb stems hanging by binder clips) too late, and they dried sideways. The leaves drooped and curled.
Needless to say, I won’t be making smudge sticks this year…
I picked out all the big leaves and put them in a vacuum seal jar.
The remainder, small leaves and stems, went in a bowl and now sit on top of the mantle, waiting for winter fires to fragrance.
I salvaged what I could of the puny rosemary and mint plants to try and keep them alive over the winter inside.
Only a few weeks in, though, and the rosemary is drying up.
I painted a pot for the mint with some very cool stick-on stencils.
these things are like Colorforms!
don’t try a paint pen with stencils – super pain. the flat faced brushes work best.
stick and restick to make symmetrical patterns!
Here’s the finished pot with plant in it.
I would show you a picture of it now, thriving in the sunny dining room window, but my camera just decided to die. The day before we meet our nieces. Mercury is definitely retrograde, people. I’d go on with a little astronomy and astrology, but I’ll skip it for now. This has been a full post!
I’ll be back with more autumn activities soon.